Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bengali Script: My First Memories of Learning The Bangla Words

I've always been an avid reader, a compulsive reader who can't live without books! And for as long as I remember, I've been reading, my oldest reading memories being around the age I was 3.....While I was a kid, the scripts I was reading were English and Hindi.

My ma used to read me a lot of Bengali books of rhymes and stories that she used to buy on our once-a-year or once-in-two years trip to Kolkata, and if my grandparents or aunts were visiting, they would always brings some new Bengali books for me, that my ma would read out to me...Of course I didn't understand most of it, the words sounded unfamiliar and I there were so many unknown and alien words that I stopped asking about them after some time. The situations and the settings sounded different, like a different world out there, and I loved the dreamy, faraway feel of reading these stories from Bengal.

As I was growing up, I had to take up a test when I was in class V, that required me to know the Bengali script. I still remember what a nightmare it was and how my ma started me on trying to get familiar with the same. I remember she had bought a Puja-special edition of some children's magazine, I think it was Anandamela? It was a thick book with lots of stories for kids, a magazine that came out monthly (I think), and came in a big edition during Durga Puja.

So the first thing my ma asked me to do was look at the scripts and try and copy them. She would copy out the alphabets for me to try and repeat and write and re-write, and without understanding a thing, I kept trying. Points to my ma coz there wasn't really much time for me to learn it, but she kept on trying, while I did too, half-heartedly, dreading that it would never happen.

It didn't happen! I could not understand a word on the entire question sheet for the test I was supposed to take. Forget one question, I could not even read a full question, and I left the entire paper blank, just writing my name in English! Thankfully, I excelled in the other papers and made it to the merit list! I still wonder how.....

I did learn the script later though...It took me a lot of time, but I eventually manged. And I am glad I did....

I can now read Bangla, and write it too, but it takes me a lot of time to read a page of Bengali, and if I can finish an English book in a day or two, it takes me at least 1-2 weeks to finish a simple book in Bengali. It does deter me sometime as the speed slows down, but I guess I will keep trying...after all, it's worth reading the originals than reading them in translation!

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